Friday, May 31, 2013

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

I've been a big fan of When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead since before it won the 2010 Newbery Medal, so I recently decided to do a reread via audiobook.

It's 1979, and Miranda is a savvy Manhattan city-dweller: she knows to ignore the rough boys who hang out at the garage down the street, not to talk to the crazy homeless man who sleeps with his head under the mailbox, and to have her key out and ready when she gets to her apartment door. Her main preoccupations are with school, friends, and helping her mother prep for an upcoming appearance on the game show The $20,000 Pyramid. But then, all of a sudden, things start to change. After an inexplicable encounter with another kid on the street, Miranda's best friend Sal stops talking to her -- even though his getting punched wasn't her fault. Even more mysteriously, strange notes begin arriving for Miranda. What do they mean? Who are they from? What should Miranda do about them?

Every time I read this book, I am impressed at the tight plotting and skillful writing. Listening to the audio version was no exception, and Cynthia Holloway's narration perfectly captured Miranda's smart, youthful voice. This is a book that gives its readers credit for intelligence without seeming at all pretentious, and while I may have its flaws, I certainly can't pick them out. The characters are nuanced and grow throughout the course of the story, the pacing is steady, the story is neither too long nor too short, and there are bonus references to A Wrinkle in Time. What's not to love?

(Reviewed from an e-audiobook borrowed through my library system.)

1 comment:

  1. This was such an interesting, unique book, and not at all what I was expecting when I picked it up. I think it was the grittiness of the real world, with the street bullies and especially the mentally-unbalanced homeless man, that surprised me the most. Definitely worth exploring, though.